US President Joe Biden is plunging into the next phase of his administration with the steady approval of a majority of Americans, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows Mr Biden is buoyed in particular by the public’s broad backing for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
n the fourth month of his presidency, Mr Biden’s overall approval rating sits at 63pc. When it comes to the new Democratic president’s handling of the pandemic, 71pc of Americans approve, including 47pc of Republicans.
The poll also shows an uptick in Americans’ overall optimism about the state of the country. Fifty-four percent say the country is on the right track, higher than at any point in AP-NORC polls conducted since 2017; 44pc think the nation is on the wrong track.
Those positive marks have fuelled the Biden White House’s confidence coming out of the president’s first 100 days in office, a stretch in which he secured passage of a sweeping $1.9trn (€1.56trn) pandemic relief package and surged Covid-19 vaccines across the country.
The US, which has suffered the most virus deaths of any nation, is now viewed enviably by much of the rest of the world for its speedy vaccination programme and robust supplies of the shots.
“We are turning a corner,” said Jeff Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 response co-ordinator.
The improvements have also affected Americans’ concerns about the virus. The poll shows the public’s worries about the pandemic are at their lowest level since February 2020, when the virus was first reaching the US. About half of Americans say they are at least somewhat worried that they or a relative could be infected with the virus, down from about seven in 10 just a month earlier.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, there is a wide partisan gap in Americans’ views of pandemic risks. Among Democrats, 69pc say they remain at least somewhat worried about being infected with the virus, compared with just 33pc of Republicans.
Despite the overall positive assessments of Americans, Mr Biden’s advisers are well aware that the next phase of his presidency is potentially trickier. Vaccination rates have slowed, and the administration is grappling with how to persuade those who are reluctant to get the shots about their safety and efficacy.
Mr Biden’s legislative agenda for the rest of this year also faces obstacles on Capitol Hill. Republicans are resisting his calls for passing a sweeping infrastructure package, and there’s insufficient support among Democrats for overhauling Senate rules in a way that would allow the party to tackle changes to immigration policy, gun laws and voting rights on its own.
There are also potential warning signs emerging on the economy after a strong start to the year. A new government report showed employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, sharply lower than in March and far fewer than economists had expected.